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Recap / The Big Bang Theory S 11 E 9 The Bitcoin Entanglement

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Plot

When Leonard, Raj, and Howard try to make a bundle on old bitcoins they had purchased, Sheldon tries to teach them a lesson for cutting him out. Meanwhile, a seven year old videotape reveals a secret regarding Leonard and Penny's relationship.

Tropes:

  • Artistic License – Economics: Artistic License - Bitcoin. A lot of dialogue and apparently plot points about Bitcoin in this episode is inaccurate.
    • Howard says a single Bitcoin is currently worth about $5000. The worth of one whole Bitcoin was $10,000 at the time this episode aired, but of course this episode was written and filmed months in advance before airing.
    • Sheldon claims that Bitcon is "a new online currency that’s been developed. It’s just like actual money, except you can’t see it, hold it, or spend it on anything." Not true. You CAN spend Bitcoin on particular items should the merchant allow and accept Bitcoin as currency.
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    • Sheldon worries that Bitcoin can get you harassed by the IRS over the phone about tax implications. The IRS never calls you over tax implications, they send you a certified letter. The concept that the IRS will call you over tax code misfilings is a hoax made up by IRS scammers predominantly from India (Raj's homeland).
  • Artistic License – Engineering: Artistic License - Computer Engineering.
    • Back in 2010, Leonard and Howard used a programming software and easily mined a whole bunch of Bitcoin in a very short amount of time, apparently only a few seconds got them multiple coins. However, the average CPU (Central processing unit) back then could only build a small amount of coins over a slow and long period of many days.
    • Stuart says he's going to clean out the entire Batman USB (filled with Leonard's Bitcoin) then sell it for $10. Stuart would need a password to wipe the data because bitcoins are encrypted. Stuart most likely sold the Batman flash drive to somebody while the drive still has the Bitcoin on it, meaning the drive was not properly wiped out.
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    • Leonard is somehow able to transfer the Bitcoin from Howard's laptop (lagging in pace thanks to all the Asian fetish porn that Howard downloaded) into his own laptop with relative ease. This is nearly impossible; transfer of Bitcoin is made deliberately challenging so as it can't be stolen by someone else. Easy-to-read Bitcoins are not stored and transferred onto a hard drive so as that Bitcoins can quickly jump from one computer to another. Instead, private keys (random encrypted characters) are what's transferred. These private keys are very important to write down lest you risk losing your Bitcoin forever.
  • Commitment Issues: A Flashback explores more of why Penny broke up with Leonard back in season three. They end up finding a web video she made while drunk where she confesses that she knew the next step with Leonard was going to be marriage and she was seriously considering it, and that prospect terrified her.
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  • Ironic Echo Cut: Stuart claims that he helped the guys mine for Bitcoin, and so he wants "his" cut of the wealth. Turns out that 7 years ago, Stuart refused to lend a hand because he was asked to provide snacks for them as they mine but he declined saying that's too rich for his blood.
  • It Was with You All Along: Sheldon reveals that he took the bitcoins and uploaded them in Leonard's Batman keychain USB drive, so they had it with them all the time. Unfortunately, Leonard lost that drive years ago.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Not entirely, but about half of this episode involves flashbacks to seven years prior when the characters did some bitcoin data-mining as they retrace their steps to find where they kept the bitcoin files. This involves interweaving a number of established moments of the series such as Penny and Leonard's breakup, Penny and Zack dating and a previously unknown encounter Penny had with Amy before they officially met.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: In The Stinger, it's revealed that the Batman flash drive containing the now very valuable bitcoins was accidentally left in Stuart's comic book shop; he wiped the drive and resold it for ten dollars.
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